The African American Agenda
[The] man who holds that all I need is to be a good servant is not fit to teach me.
—Charles Grandison 1.
ven before the Emancipation Proclamation, as northern reform- Evers and missionaries began creating schools for African Americans, southern blacks sought education with an enthusiasm that amazed white observers. From the start, black students and parents registered their own distinctive demands and expectations. They were confident that schools would provide them and their children the skills necessary to develop racial pride, economic mobility, and political freedom. Without waiting for white encouragement, blacks sought to administer Negro schools, staff them with teachers of their own race, and supplement outside philanthropy with community self-help. 2.
So persistently did black southerners seek a voice in their own education in the late nineteenth century that it is possible to speak of an African American agenda in education, though in fact the most consistent black demand was that their education should be____________________